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Angry Totems - A Shaman Guide


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#1 Arxkanite

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 12:30 AM

Shaman Guide

Introduction: A Shaman is great multi-class that can focus on massive minion damage and/or massive spell damage. Shamans can quickly turn the tide of battle by buffing weak minions into gods or flinging lava to melt an opponent’s face off. This is my experience and thoughts on the Shaman class and I’ll be updating it as I continue to play.

Video Ass Kicking: Hearthstone Shaman Beat Down - YouTube

Specialties

Windfury - Windfury allows minions to attack twice each turn effectively doubling it’s damage output.

Totems - Low cost/health/attack minions that grant buffs to other friendly characters.

Overload - Overload spells are powerful spells that cost significantly less mana than other spells. The trade off is that your maximum mana is reduced on your next turn.

Buffs - Shamans have a wide array of ways to enhance the attack power of minions. It is possible to start with a 0/2 Totem and have it do tremendous damage.


Synergies

Charge - Charge creatures work great with the shaman’s buffs. Charge creatures can hit the battlefield, instantly gaining power from other minions already there or be given windfury / rockbiter to become insanely powerful. This forces your opponents to play defensively. They never know when they are going to get smacked for 10 damage out of nowhere.

Taunt - Taunt creatures work great in protecting your minions and totems. This is due to the shaman’s ability to enhance creatures. Bloodlust can turn a field of 0 attack power totems into a game winning offensive line.

Spell Power - Spell Power is great for most classes, but when combined with the devastating damage of the shaman’s overload spells you can easily do tremendous damage. A single +1 spell power minion and 2 lava bursts is 12 damage for only 6 mana.


Class Power - Totemic Call: Summon a random totem. This power is far better than it may seem at first. Totems are annoying and if your opponent doesn’t destroy them then they can quickly become powerful offensive weapons. Most opponents will take the effort to destroy them and that’s okay. That is effectively forcing them to skip an attack against you. Below are the random totems you can summon:

Stoneclaw Totem [0/2]: Taunt. Annoying totem that your opponent must waste an attack / spell to kill off.|

Searing Totem [1/1]: A simple totem that can attack.

Wrath of Air Totem [0/2]: Spell Power + 1. Increases the damage of the shaman’s elemental spells.

Healing Totem [0/2]: At the end of your turn, restore 1 Health to all friendly characters. Decent totem that keeps things alive. Works great against attrition style tactics and new players will make the mistake of not destroying this totem quickly.


Tactics

Generally a shaman should be played aggressively, dealing massive damage directly to your opponent. Most of the time you can get your opponent to trade their own minions with yours allowing you to kill their minions and get damage on the field. Charge creatures work really well in getting onto the field and dealing damage out of nowhere.

Shamans should play higher mana curve than normal classes due to a general lack of card draw, and the ability to deal insane amounts of damage in a single turn. Low cost minions with taunt work great to allow you to get to the late game safely.

Don’t waste your buffs too early in the game. Allow your opponent to believe they have the upper hand. This will usually cause them to make a mistake or allow some of your weak minions to survive. Punish them by dropping blood lust and buffs to finish them off in a single turn. Use Lava Burst only near the end of the game or if you desperately need to kill off a high health creature.

Spell power is nice, but don’t waste too many deck spots on this feature. You’ll more than likely get a Wrath of Air Totem at some point, and you’ll usually find 1 is more than enough.

Your health isn’t as important as it may be in other class decks. Take the damage and keep on beating face to your opponent. Usually you only need to get them to around 10-15 to finish them off with in a single turn.

Finally, be careful with your overload spells. Think about the cards you can draw and what you have in your hand and how much mana you’re going to have next turn. It becomes very easy to lock yourself down for a turn against a strong opponent if you don’t watch your overload spells.


Class Specific Cards - Numbers with asterisks around them are increased by Spell Power. Cards are written as “(Mana Cost) Name [Attack Power/Defense or Durability]: Card Text.”

(0) Ancestral Healing: Restore a minion to full Health and give it Taunt. This spell works great with high health creatures like Gurubashi Berserker. However I find the spell is too situational to be very useful. 99% of the time I would want another card in my hand.

(0) Totemic Might: Give your Totems +2 Health. This spell can be useful for keeping your totems alive. The effect is permanent but only affects currently in-play totems. I find that I rarely have more than 2 totems in play against smart opponents. It is possible to use this card to keep totems alive long enough to use Bloodlust, or to survive small board wipes.

(1) Earth Shock: Silence a minion, then deal *1* damage to it. This is another card I’m not too impressed with. The silence effect is great for only 1 mana, but most of the time the 1 damage will be wasted on anything you want to silence and the silence would be wasted on anything you wanted to deal 1 damage to. I would much rather take a Ironbeak Owl as a silence effect at 1 more mana and a body on the playing field. This spell seems to work best against the Hunter class which contains many beasts you would want to silence. Again, I would rather just kill those beasts instead.

(1) Forked Lightning: Deal *2* damage to 2 random enemy minions. Overload (2). Cheap way to kill off a few low health creatures. Works even better with a Wrath of Air Totem in play. However, I feel the overload cost of 2 is too high. I would use this more often if it cost 2 mana and was overload (1).

(1) Frost Shock: Deal *1* damage to an enemy character and freeze it. Compared to Earth Shock I find the spell a better option, but not by much. It at least has the power to stop ANY powerful minion for at least 1 turn (Silence is only good against buffed minions or those with powerful abilities). But that’s only 1 turn. Most of the time this spell will stay in your hand wasting space while you wait for a good time to use it.

(1) Lightning Bolt: Deal *3* damage. Overload (1). A great direct damage spell. Can kill a wide range of early and mid-game minions. Improves with spell power and can even be used as direct damage against the enemy hero if needed. Don’t use this card quickly or against week minions. Save it for a great opportunity to swing the tide of battle into your favor.

(1) Rockbiter Weapon: Give a friendly character +3 Attack this turn. Another excellent spell. Works amazingly well on a creature with windfury. Again, don’t use this spell too early, wait for something with windfury to optimize the damage, or drop onto a low health charge minon like Wolf Rider to optimize that minions short lived life. Also works well for clearing out high health minions your opponent may have in play. This spell works on Totems and even on your Hero.

(1) Dust Devil [3/1]: Windfury. Overload (2). This minion is much better than it appears at first glance. He works best on turn 1 and absolutely forces your opponent to deal with him immediately. Later game don’t play him unless you have a bunch of other creatures in play. The overload cost is high, making you skip turn 2, but I’ve never had that become a problem. If your opponent is unlucky enough to not have a way to kill him on turn one, 6 damage on turn 2 is insane.

(2) Stormforged Axe [2/3]: Weapon. Overload (1). This is a good axe allowing you to deal 6 damage to your opponent from turns 2 - 4. Best to draw this late game when both players are low on cards as it will give you options to do damage over several turns. Weapons are great because there are few ways to deal with them and allow you to clean up low health minions or attack the enemy hero directly. I do feel there are better cards to play at the 2 mana cost range though. This is because Bloodlust, Flametongue Totem, and Windfury don’t work on your hero.

(2) Ancestral Spirit: Choose a minion. When that minion is destroyed, return it to the battlefield. Full Review coming. Seems pretty decent. Especially on Dust Devil in that for 3 mana you’re opponent is going to have to waste a whole lot of cards to save their life total. I’ll update once I get some practice with this card.

(2) Windfury: Give a minion Windfury. Simply amazing. The more power your minion the better this spell becomes. You should always have 2 of this card in your deck. Amazing synergy with Rockbiter Weapon and Bloodlust. Placing this on a mediocre minion effectively gives it taunt, forcing your opponent to kill it before worrying about other minions you have.

(2) Flametongue Totem: Adjacent minions have +2 Attack. This is a great 2 drop totem that can quickly increase your damage potential by 4 (or more if a minion has windfury). Make sure you place it carefully and place minions you play after it where you want them as it only buffs minions to the left and right of it. Can even be used to buff 0 Attack power totems into become offensive weapons. Don’t expect it to live very long without taunt on the field.

(3) Far Sight: Draw a card. That card costs (3) less. Full Review coming. I’m not sure on this one. I guess it really depends on your deck composition. Low cost decks wouldn’t want to use this card. Works pretty poorly with the Overload mechanic in that you’ll still have to pay the delayed mana on your next turn. Basically this card says “Waste a spot in your deck.” in that all it does is replace itself.

(3) Feral Spirit: Summon two 2/3 Spirit Wolves with Taunt. Overload (2). I really like this card, I think it’s decently balanced and puts 2 creatures into play. Without a board wipe you can probably expect at least one to survive allowing you to buff and attack next turn. Limits your decisions next turn due to the overload cost, but overall a solid card.

(3) Hex: Transform a minion into a 0/1 Frog with Taunt. An amazing control card that makes any minion your opponent has effectively useless. The one drawback is that you usually have to waste an attack to kill the frog due to Taunt. Use this card carefully, you don’t want to hex a 4/4 only to have an 8/8 dropped on you next turn.

(3) Lava Burst: Deal *5* damage. Overload (2). The shaman’s best direct damage spell. I cannot think of any reason a deck wouldn’t want 2 of these in it. Keep this card in your hand until near the end of the game. Don’t play it early. Let your opponent think they are safe. Usually by late game you’ll draw a second one and you’ll always have the mana to play both, dealing 10 damage to your opponent. Basically your opponent takes the 5 damage the moment you draw it, because it’s so cheap it will always act as an amazing finishing move.

(3) Lightning Storm: Deal *2* - *3* damage to all enemy minions. A great board wipe for cheap mana. You’ll pay for it the next turn, but hopefully your opponent doesn’t have anything left on the field to threaten you. The damage is random so it can sometimes miss 3 health minions. Works great with spell power to deal even more damage.

(3) Mana Tide Totem: At the end of your turn, draw a card. A decent card if you have a way to protect it. Usually it will just die effectively just replacing itself and causing your opponent to waste an attack to clear it off. Pays for itself after the 2nd turn and anything beyond that is just gravy.

(3) Unbound Elemental [2/4]: Whenever you play a card with Overload gain +1/+1. Sounds better than it really is. It’s got a decent amount of health for 3 mana, but isn’t very offensively powerful until you actually play the overload cards.

(4) Windspeaker [3/3]: Battlecry: Give a friendly minion Windfury. An excellent 2-for-1 creature. Giving your existing minion windfury is an great way to ramp up damage. The card is better late came when you can drop him and a charge creature at once for maximum damage. Mid game he is situational because you may not always have a great target to give windfury to.

(5) Doomhammer [2/8]: Weapon. Overload (2). What a great weapon. Gives your hero windfury for the next 8 turns! If you can get this on your Shaman you’re opponent will struggle against your damage output. A Rockbiter Weapon becomes a 10 damage turn with this weapon equipped.

(5) Bloodlust: Give your minions +3 Attack this turn. This spell is what the shaman is all about! You’ll win most games when you play this spell as all your minions and totems become insane. This spell alone will force your opponent to kill every minion you play for fear of being torn about by savage frenzy. Make sure you do the math so you don’t waste it.

(5) Earth Elemental [7/8]: Taunt. Overload (3). A scary minion. It’s high health makes it difficult to destroy, and if your opponent doesn’t take care of it, a windfury next turn will simply destroy them. Even if your opponent has 4 minions in play expect this card to act as a board wipe as they bash each of them into this minion to clear it off the field.

(6) Fire Elemental [6/5]: Battlecry: Deal 3 damage. Excellent late game minion that will clear off a wide variety of enemy minions and posing an excellent threat to your opponent.

(8) Al’Akir the Windlord [3/5]: Windfury, Charge, Divine Shield, Taunt. I think they forgot to give this guy a few abilities… Seems pretty decent. I’m a bit wary of the cost to play this guy as doing 6 damage isn't really enough to end the game when you drop him. Flametongue Totem is amazing if you have it in play and then follow up with this guy. Taunt is almost a drawback for this guy as you cannot screen him with other taunt creatures. I’ll update this once I get to smash face with him.



All Class Cards - A review of some of the best and worse non-shaman cards to take with you in your shaman deck. Coming soon.


Class Strategies - Strategies to use against each specific class in the game. Coming soon.

#2 Pisshands

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 08:41 PM

From my own experience, Raid Leaders and Frostwolf Warlords are incredibly strong in conjunction with the width of a Shaman build, and if you do get toward the late game, a Stormwind Champion can be a big deal as well. I like the idea of using charge minions in conjunction with the key strengths of the deck, namely Flametongue/Windfury/Rockbiter.

In my experience, my success has hinged pretty heavily on getting an early healing stream when the opponent doesn't have the damage to take it out in a single turn and drawing Totemic Might early, so that I can buff the HST and at least one other totem. I have yet to lose a game in which I got TM on an early HST and covered it with taunt.

My takeaway is that Shaman really isn't a late-game powerhouse with big minions like the Ironbark Protectors in the Druid deck, nor is it a fast deck like Warlock. Shaman is oriented toward using Bloodlust and Windfury to 100-0 a target instantly. In that regard, it's a midgame deck, and I think it fits that niche well. It has a lot of cheap buffs as well as some 3-mana board clears with Hex and Lightning Storm. I appreciate that Shaman fits into the archetype of a WoW Shaman.

A forum-specific note: I would change the color of the grey card names in your card-specific breakdown. It doesn't read at all against the forum background. Good start otherwise.

#3 Arxkanite

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 10:43 PM

Yeah, I agree. Definitely works best mid range. Long drawn games are not my friend and usually boil down to me drawing a kill lava burst or not. I'm uploading a video now, you'll see me completely switch tactics the moment a player puts down a card that will give them huge card draw. I will simply lose if they have a bigger hand than me.

#4 Pisshands

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 03:56 AM

I have found that the games in which I am able to burn out the majority of my opponent's hand with buffed totems (either Raid Leader, Flametongue or Rockbiter Weapon) are the ones I usually win.

#5 Avair

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 01:46 PM

My general conclusion with shaman is that you really have to focus on getting out and keeping totems early on. They are your card/tempo advantage, because you don't have any real draw or much mass removal. Because of the random nature of which one will spawn, you need to have a few out to ensure you have a reasonable chance of getting the one you want. I would argue the Stoneclaw is the most important, followed by Healing totem. Wrath of Air is pretty weak since you don't have many out of hand burn spells. But you want it spawned so that you can resummon Stoneclaw/Searing Totem every turn. Avoid sacrificing your Searing Totem if you can as well until you get the other totems out, just to ensure you get the most possible stoneclaws.

Cards that generate 2 creatures with at least 2 power (i.e. Dragonling Mechanic) are really good against Shaman, since they help keep the opposing side clear.

#6 Moshne

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 02:29 PM

I like cards that abuse the fragile nature of the deck as well. Knife Juggler (triggers on summoning a new totem) and the Flesheating Ghoul? that gets bigger when anything dies/Cult Master (draw when your creatures die) really help protect your deck against its own weaknesses. I wouldn't run all three of them, but depending on your play style one could help a lot.

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#7 Hamlet

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 03:00 PM

I've had a lot of fun drafting Shaman. It seems to have the most clear game plan of all of the classes--set up a big burst kill with a lot of creatures on the board. There are two ways to do it, Bloodlust or a sudden buffed Windfury attacker. What I'm wondering about is how well an opponent can play around this once people start to understand exactly what they're trying to prevent.

Sweepers in particular seem like a big problem, and best I can tell they're designed as one of the standard removal types in this game (is there any class without any?). Notwithstanding the lack of sideboards, I think you can expect most solid constructed decks to have them, because they're a key line of defense against almost any game plan.

I can see how any deck that's too slow to get any board presence will be in trouble against Shaman. In general I think a theme that will emerge more about this game is that, while card advantage seemed to rule in the first few days, obtaining and maintaining initiative on the board will actually be paramount. So, for example, a good controlling Jaina will have early creatures that at least put up some resistance against Totem sprawl and then up to 6 possible sweepers (maybe something like 4 will be more common realistically). It's hard to see how you'll break through if she uses them patiently.

Maybe the point is that you can't get on-board initiative in the early turns with totems against anyone playing creatures with nonzero power. So the deck has to somehow be able to fight out an early game to get into a position to start getting totems out, and still have room in the deck for defense and win conditions (including both buffs and ways to get rid of blockers on the winning turn).

#8 MysticalOS

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 04:26 PM

Shaman has some pretty strong low mana overcharge cards too you can play early game when you need to regain a board advantage in case totems aren't an option for creature count.




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